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Gr8 Acts of Kindness winner’s compassion shaped by struggle

Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 10:36 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 24, 2022 at 7:06 AM CST
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CARAWAY, Ark. (KAIT) - What makes someone able to see needs where others can’t?

What makes a heart more open to caring?

This month’s Gr8 Acts of Kindness winner finds there’s a melody in life from which he will never depart.

“And I patched up your broken wing,” Roger Williams sings the lyrics from Willie Nelson’s “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground.”

“Music to me is just a part of myself,” Williams said.

Some of his musician buddies and they’ll play music and townspeople will bring their lawn chairs and it just takes you back,” Tim Coggins, a classmate of Williams from Caraway High School Class of 1980.

Back to a simpler time when small towns didn’t struggle to survive.

“When we were teenagers, this town was just full you know. The streets were full,” Coggins said. “Now they are full one night a week in the summer.”

That’s when Roger organizes the annual Fourth of July celebration.

“He’s been very instrumental here,” Lisa Redding, a classmate and nominator of Williams for the Gr8 Acts of Kindness. “He helps with anything that comes up.”

In fact, Roger is busy year-round... always working to help others.

From organizing a hundred food boxes for the elderly a couple of weeks before Christmas.

“He does more than most people,” Redding said.

Roger and his wife, Shey, are part of the Caraway community volunteers.

“Last year, we were able to do toys for 160 kids,” Williams said.

Helping raise money to get toys for children who might not otherwise receive them.

“In a town this small, that tells you just how dire straits can be sometimes,” Williams said.

And you can always find him helping out Old Saint Nick himself. That despite the fact that his own childhood was... heartbreaking.

“When I was a 14-year-old kid, at that time, my parents were split up,” Williams said. “I had no home.”

Truly, no place to stay.

Roger was homeless.

“He kept that to himself until we were adults,” Coggins said.

“I had a car and I would go out at night and find a field row and park. Sleep there and play my guitar,” Williams said. “Then in the morning, I would get up, go to the gym here at Caraway and take my shower.”

“His struggles taught him how to reach out to help other people,” Coggins said.

After serving in the Air Force, Roger came home to Caraway, worked 15 years in bus maintenance at Riverside and retired due to health reasons.

But he’s never stopped helping or serving.

“It may not be someone he knows, but they have reached out to him and they have said ‘Hey, will you come play in my family member’s funeral?’ Coggins said. “Head down, carrying that guitar..and I believe this, it’s just my perception, that him carrying the Bible.”

But, nearly the whole town knows Roger.

“Hi!”

They came out for his big surprise at City Hall.

“What you do for your fellow man, you are the next winner in the Gr8 Acts of Kindness,” I told Williams and the room erupts in applause.

“Thank you, Diana,” Williams said.

“Three hundred, four hundred, five, six, seven, eight. Four hundred eight dollars!”

“Roger, Congratulations!” Allen Williams, Community President of First Community Bank said. “Your caring spirit is such an asset to the community of Caraway.”

“There’s a reason we’re able to do things for people in Caraway,” Williams said. “It’s not just us.”

It’s everyone pulling together.

“Angel flying too close to the ground,” Williams sang and the crowd gathered for his surprise listened intently.

They know the song in Williams’ heart is what brought them all together that day.

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